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What is an Identity Theft Alert?

Article Details
  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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With the growth of e-commerce, identity theft has become more prevalent. Identity theft refers to a crime in which a criminal steals and individual’s identification and uses it for malicious purposes. Many banking companies offer identity theft alert programs. These programs alert a consumer when suspicious activities are identified with his credit purchases.

A credit report is a special file that is a record of a person's historical credit data. This file represents a report card from the individual’s creditors. An identity theft alert program will monitor changes with an individual’s credit report. These include inquiries, new credit requests, and public records. Most credit reporting agencies offer identity theft alert programs that monitor abnormalities with credit file information.

Most credit is obtained through banks. These banks provide money to individuals based on information derived from a credit report. The credit reports typically include name, address, and employment information. When a person applies for credit, his application information is compared against his credit file. Discrepancies with this information will trigger an identity theft alert.

Phishing is a technique used by thieves to capture personal information. This is typically used for identity theft purposes. If a criminal tries to use this information to obtain new credit cards, an identity theft alert may be triggered. These alerts automatically occur when a credit card is requested with a different address then is documented on the credit report. This address abnormality in credit requests triggers an alert.

Credit card companies monitor card activities for odd purchasing trends. This typically includes serious spikes in purchasing. When an individual makes large purchases that are abnormal from his typical spending, he may encounter identity theft alerts. This is a form of protection provided by credit card companies. When this occurs, the credit is typically frozen until the consumer verifies the purchase.

Frequent travelers also experience identity theft alerts. A purchase in multiple states on a single day is an indicator of suspicious behavior. Many times a consumer’s credit is frozen when this type of purchasing is detected.

Most credit card companies offer new credit to consumers via mailed applications. This process is prone to fraudulent behavior because the credit card is issued based on a paper file. An identity theft alert program requires a credit card company to contact the consumer before a new credit card can be issued.

Many companies offer consumers special programs, which monitor for identity theft. These programs enforce credit restrictions on an individual’s credit purchasing power. With a tighter credit security program, each new credit request requires validation by the consumer before the credit can be authorized. This restriction includes credit cards, personal loans, and mortgages.

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